A Complete Guide To MailChimp And Email Automation

Email has always been one of the most effective marketing tools. It gives you a direct channel with your audience and it allows you to bypass all the noise on the internet and connect with them directly. Email is very personal and private form of communication and people tend to check it more often than their social media. When you send someone an email, it won’t get buried in the user’s timeline like on social media which gives you a better chance of someone actually reading it.

In this article, we’ll take a look at MailChimp which is one of the most popular email providers and it is a favourite for bloggers and small businesses. A great thing about MailChimp is that it is completely free for up to 2,000 subscribers which are far more than other email providers give you. As you grow your subscriber list, you’ll be prompted to upgrade your account. MailChimp lets you integrate with much other popular software’s and it has a super simple drag and drop interface that allows you to create email templates without any coding whatsoever.

MailChimp Email Campaign Setup

Create a MailChimp Account

The first thing you’ll need to do is to create a free MailChimp account. Signup is pretty straightforward, you’ll just need to enter your username, email address, and password. After that, you’ll get a confirmation email from them and you just need to click the link in it to finish the process.

When you confirm the email, you’ll be brought to your dashboard. Here, you can do several important things:

  • Create a campaign: here you can set up your campaigns (called email broadcast by MailChimp)
  • Create a list: you store your subscribers in a list
  • Import subscribers: here you can upload a list of your previous email subscribers
create campaign

Create Your Email List

The next step for you is to create your first email list. You do this by click on “Create a List” button in your dashboard. After that, you’ll need to fill in some necessary information:

  • List name: put something here that’ll make sense for you so you don’t mix up the lists
  • Default From email address: you will send the emails from this email address. Use something professional like hello@yourwebsite.com and not your Gmail address
  • Default From name: this is the name that will appear in their inbox. You can use your actual name or your brand name
  • Campaign URL settings: you can leave this as it is
  • Remind people how they signed up to your list: people tend to forget why they signed up to some email list, so this way you can write them a message about how they joined your list if they try to unsubscribe
  • Contact information for this list: your information will show up in the footer of each email and this information needs to be correct due to CAN-SPAM law and regulations
create list

The next thing is to fill up your subscriber list. If you already have a list of subscribers somewhere else, then you can import it to MailChimp. You’ll have the option to import them from a CSV file, by copy/paste from a file or using an integrated service.

import contacts

Create a Signup Form

Now, let’s create a signup form! You can place this form on your website and allow people to subscribe to your list. To create a form, just click “Signup forms” when you are on your list.

signup forms

You’ll have four options: general forms, embedded forms, subscriber pop-up, and form integrations. You’ll probably use general and embedded forms most of the time, so we’ll examine the general forms in this example.

create forms

Right above the form, you’ll have three tabs that you can use to customize every aspect of your form.

  • Build it: you can drag and drop fields from here to your form. If you click on a field then you can customize it as well.
  • Design it: this tab will let you customize the styling of the form. This includes changing the fonts, colours, etc.
  • Translate it: if you need the form to be in another language, then you can change the form messages here. MailChimp comes with a lot of languages built in.

Create an Email Template

The next step is to create an HTML template that you’ll use in your emails. MailChimp makes this really easy for you and with its drag and drop editor you can create beautiful mobile-ready HTML templates in minutes. To get there, just click “Templates” in the top navigation bar and then click “Create Template”.

You’ll be given 3 options:

  • Layouts: here you can create an email template from scratch. This option allows you to customize your email fully
  • Themes: if you don’t have to time to design an email, MailChimp provides you many done templates. You’ll have the option of choosing many different themes.
  • Code your own: here you can paste your HTML template code

 

In most cases, you’ll choose the “Layouts” option and you’ll need to select a basic layout of the email such as the number of columns, sidebars, etc. Next, you’ll be taken to the template editor.

email design

On the left side you have the preview and on the right side are some options and elements that you can add to your email template. To add any element from the left section, simply drag and drop it to the left side. When you hover over any element, it’ll highlight and you’ll have the option to move, copy, delete, or duplicate that specific element. Never delete the footer part of the email that’s already generated because it’s very important to have your address there and unsubscribe options as well.

If you want to change global settings of the email, then click on “Design” tab in the right section and you’ll be able to change the background, set borders, change the font, change heading settings, etc. When you are done, click “Preview and Test” button in the upper right corner and you can see how your email will look like and you’ll also have the option to send yourself a test email if you want to check it out firsthand.

Create Your Campaign

The template that you’ve built in the last step can be used over and over again, and when you need to send an email with different content, you can simply reuse the old template. To create a campaign, click the “Campaign” button in the top navigation and then “Crate Campaign”.

You’ll have four options:

  • Regular: sends out normal HTML email
  • Plain-text: text-only email
  • A/B Test: for testing different subject lines, timings, sender names, and content
  • Automated: send a sequence of automated emails
create email

In most cases, you’ll be using the “Regular” option. In the next step, you’ll need to select a list of subscribers that you want to send this email to. Next is the setup screen where you’ll need to type in some information:

campaign info

Campaign name – type something that will make sense to you. The name of the campaign won’t be shown to your subscribers.

Email subject – this is the title of the email that your subscribers will see in their inbox.

From name and email address – this will be filled in already because you’ve set it up before, but you can change it if you want.

Personalize the “To” field – if you asked your subscribers for a name when getting their email, then you can use their name to personalize the emails. Any sort of personalization will help you to avoid the spam filters as not all emails will be the same.

Tracking – MailChimp will track email opens and clicks on the links but here you can setup another tracking solution like Google Analytics.

In the next step, you’ll need to choose a template of your email. If you’ve already created your own template in the next step, then just choose “Saved templates” and pick your own. Click “Next”.

template

The rest of the process is easy and quick! Since you already created the template, now you just add the text, images, headings, and links. You can also preview the email before you sent it from the top navigation bar by clicking on “Preview and Test”. After you are done designing, click “Next” in the bottom right. You’ll be taken to a confirmation page with a broad overview of the campaign. If everything is good and MailChimp is not reporting any errors, then you can hit “Send”. You’ve just sent your first email campaign!

MailChimp Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is an amazing feature that allows you to reach the right people with the right content that is tailored just for them and their customer lifecycle. Some of the examples of what you could do with marketing automation include welcoming your new subscribers, re-engaging old customers, and following up on people that bought from you a couple of days ago.

Automations are triggered when people meet the pre-defined criteria that you set. An example would be to send an automated message to someone that just bought from you. MailChimp has allowed its users to enjoy all of their features, no matter on what plan then are, including advanced marketing automation services. MailChimp automation feature is something that you should definitely consider no matter where you are in the business. Automation is different from simple email scheduling since it allows you to set up triggers in your emails that put someone down a path which then allows you to send that exact person a specific content just for them (or for a group of people that triggered an event).

Let’s take a look at an example of how you can set up your first automation. We’ll use the “Welcome Series” example:

add automation

When your subscribers opt-in to your email list, they’ll be welcomed by this email series. MailChimp usually suggests that you should add 5 emails to your automation sequence, but this is totally up to you and it’ll very from person to person and the content that they need to send to their subscribers. You can also automate a sequence of only one email if you need to do so. A good example of a welcome series would be to send a sequence of three emails – the first email would welcome them to your website, the second email would check in on them, and the third email would offer subscribers some additional resources. Of course, space these emails out, don’t send them the same day.

By default, the first email will be sent 1 day after someone opts-in, the second email will be sent on day 2 and the third email on day 3. We recommend that you change the time schedule of the first email to be sent immediately when someone subscribers so you can welcome them right away. If you want to change the delay of when each email is sent, then simply click “Edit trigger”.

triggers

Here you are presented with a few options:

  • Edit trigger: here you can change the delay between when someone subscribed to your list and when the email will be sent
  • Edit schedule: you can choose days of the week when this email can be sent, as well as the time
  • Edit segment: segmentation allows you to send emails only to subscribers who meet the conditions that you’ve set (see image below for all the available options). There are so many options to choose from! This way you can really segment your list and, by doing that, send really targeted emails to a specific group of people which will, in most cases, perform much better
  • Design email: you can write a subject line here, along with “from name” and “from email address”
segmentation conditions

CONCLUSION

Email is such an important marketing tool for every business and MailChimp is usually the tool of choice for small businesses. It is very affordable and it makes it so easy for even beginners to start running email campaigns without any prior knowledge. MailChimp’s user interface is beautiful and simple and you can usually find everything you need intuitively. They also have an extensive help database that will answer any of your specific questions.